2) See #1.
I'm so obsessed with this game it isn't even funny.
Things I love about the game:
1) There's no RNG. (Unless you consider the random order of player seating at the start of the game - over hundreds of games with the same group of players, we have found no correlation between starting position and outcome)
2) It's a game about supply chain management, which tickles my economics nerdiness fancies
3) There is very little asymmetric information, which means decision making is incredibly subtle.
4) There are many different auction bidding strategies to consider.
5) Specialization and gains-from-trade are essential, yay free trade!
6) There are basically three rules to the game, so it's really easy to learn
7) There's nothing to memorize (I hate games where you have to anticipate 'he's probably holding the Thief card so I have to play around it, even though this is my first game and I've never seen the Thief card, or the 60 other mystery action cards').